A pain in the neck is a real, well, pain in the neck. So is a pain in the shoulders. The reason we have the “pain in the neck” saying is that this kind of pain is common. Statistics say a majority of us will experience discomfort or worse in either or both areas some time in our lives.
Whether from a sports injury, car accident, disease or genetics, neck and shoulder pain can interfere with nearly every aspect of a person’s life.
The very mobility of these two areas makes them prone to overexertion and injury. The ease with which the neck moves makes it less stable and more vulnerable than other areas of the body. And because the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with a great range of motion, it again is susceptible to damage.
Traditional treatments for neck and shoulder pain sometimes don’t provide the level of relief people are looking for—or they include taking dangerous opioid painkillers. Luckily, cannabis has proven anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can help people battling neck and shoulder pain.
Causes of & Treatments for Neck & Should Pain
Common causes of neck pain are varied and include:
- Abnormalities in the bone or joints
- Poor posture
- Degenerative diseases
- Muscle strain
For shoulder pain, causes include:
- Strains from overexertion
- Tendonitis from overuse
- Shoulder joint instability
- Collar or upper arm bone fractures
- Frozen shoulder
- Pinched nerves (also called radiculopathy)
The traditional course of treatment for the pain depends on the type of problem you have. For example, soft tissue damage may be addressed by anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn). But sometimes your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, including acetaminophen, and muscle relaxants.
Less-invasive treatments may include local applications of heat or ice, and exercises to help with movement.
A corticosteroid injection may be used to deal with arthritis in the shoulder. And surgery could be considered for cases involving the spine or nerve roots.
Folks Turn to Marijuana for Pain Relief—And Science Backs Them Up
Increasingly, folks are turning to medical marijuana for neck and shoulder pain, both great and small. One reason is because people can have bad reactions to traditional medicine, or they may want to avoid addictive opioids, given the mounting epidemic.
For example, 58-year-old Alexandra Callner, who runs a dog-boarding service in Pasadena, CA, found that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories she took to help with severe arthritis pain kept her up nights were making her nauseous.
But when she switched to medical marijuana, she found real relief without the side effects. “Every night, I get into bed, read about an hour, take one or two puffs, and then I am off to sleep. The pain is much lighter,” she told WebMD.
To back up the large body of personal testimonials to cannabis’s pain-relieving properties, there are a growing number of studies that show marijuana as a pain reliever is quite promising.
A 2004–2008 study, for example, conducted by McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, and published online in The Journal of Pain, found cannabis safe and effective in relieving chronic pain. When it came to chronic pain arising from such conditions as arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, the cannabis group in the study showed significant improvement and greater than the control group.
And recent studies have found that medical and legal recreational-use marijuana may reduce the amount of opioids people use. In one case, a study of older adults conducted by Northwell Health, published last May, revealed that cannabis significantly helped with their chronic pain and “reduced their need for opioid painkillers.”
How Medical Marijuana Works to Relieve Neck & Shoulder Pain
When it comes to coping with shoulder and neck problems, marijuana contains two principle cannabinoids—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD—which work to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Every person’s experience with pain can be different, so it may take some experimentation with different THC and CBD levels to come up with the right balance for your condition. But in general terms, THC-rich strains will provide body-melting highs, which some people prefer for pain relief. On the other hand, some people turn to CBD to address pain, because it’s relaxing, but without any intoxicating effects.
CBD has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, while THC “calms muscle spasticity” or relaxes stiff, aching or cramping muscles—both of which help alleviate neck and shoulder pain symptoms.
5 Cannabis Strains That May Help Ease Shoulder & Neck Pain
As far as cannabis strains that can help alleviate pain, here are four suggestions worth exploring:
- White Fire OG This robust hybrid with a THC level of 22–30% is great for people who need heavy-duty pain relief. Because it’s sativa-dominant, White Fire OG imparts an energizing and uplifting high, making it a good choice for daytime use, rather than a sleep-inducing indica. Be aware though, that the high-THC content makes White Fire OG quite potent. So start low and go slow if you’re new to cannabis or trying this strain for the first time.
- Kosher Kush Thought to be the first commercial marijuana strain to be blessed by a rabbi, Kosher Kush is an indica variety, which has a sedating effect on body and mind, relieving pain and helping you sleep. This is another THC-rich cannabis strain that marijuana newcomers should ease into carefully.
- Golden Goat This sativa-leaning hybrid has gentle physical effects and is a good choice for medical marijuana patients who want mild pain relief while staying active. Golden Goat can help alleviate mild, persistent pain while uplifting mood at the same time.
- God’s Gift This indica strain may live up to its name, combining anti-inflammatory properties with pain-fighting and mood-boosting abilities. God’s Gift would be ideal when you’re in a social setting with family or friends, but you still need pain relief.
- ACDC This hybrid cannabis strain features a typical CBD content around 20–24% and only around 1–6% THC. This means that it’s ideal for those folks who want to treat shoulder and neck pain, but who don’t want to feel high. ACDC not only addresses chronic pain, but can also increase productivity. This means it can be taken during the day when there’s lots to tackle on your to-do list.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to find the pain relief that best suits your condition, whether it’s medical marijuana, traditional treatment or a combination of both. As always, you should go to your family doctor first to discuss treatment options.
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